Labour members launch legal action against the Party

JVL Introduction

A follow-up by Skwawkbox about the launch of the  crowd-funding campaing launched by Labour Activists For Justice or LA4J, publicised on our website here yesterday.

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Fri 14 Aug 2020. Read the original here.

Exclusive: group of Labour members take party to court

Seven, mostly Jewish, Labour Party members calling themselves Labour Activists For Justice or LA4J have launched a crowdfund to take the party to court over its disciplinary processes, which they consider unsound and unjust.

They say that under the current processes:

  • all communications from the party are anonymous
  • the accused are not told who has made the complaint
  • those accused are sent ‘evidence’ – usually screenshots of social media postings etc and a list of party rules they are alleged to have broken
  • the accused are then asked to explain how the ‘evidence’ might support the charges – in effect requiring the accused to incriminate themselves
  • they are not told who their ‘judges’ will be, nor whether they have a right to a hearing
  • they have no opportunity to question witnesses

In short, those accused by the party – and often suspended as a result – are subject to an opaque procedure and are denied any rights, including any presumption of innocence.

The group points out that the party is aware of the likely harmful impact of these procedures on their targets, as they advise them to talk to their GP or to the Samaritans if they need support. However, they are forbidden to talk to anyone else, even relatives or lawyers, or face yet more disciplinary charges.

Yet at the same time there are frequent leaks from within the party itself, with suspended members often contacted by hostile media with demands for comment about cases that are supposed to have been kept confidential.

An LA4J spokesperson said:

Throughout its history the Labour Party has fought for the rights of workers, including the right to a fair and just disciplinary process. If any employer tried to impose the party’s process on their employees today, the party and the unions would be up in arms. It is a disgrace that needs to be fixed.

We have drawn the party’s attention to our concerns, including with a detailed lawyer’s letter, but they have not responded. A legal challenge is not a road we want to go down, but they have left us no choice.

Those involved include an 80-year-old Jewish woman twice accused of antisemitism by the party, a long-standing Jewish trade unionist and a retired Jewish professor.

Recent decisions by the party’s now right-dominated national executive have largely sidelined the National Constitutional Committee, Labour’s ultimate disciplinary committee under the party’s rules and one that includes a number of members elected by party members, with independent legal advisers.

The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.

Comments (22)

  • George Wilmers says:

    While it is evident that, if one excludes the use of violence, the Labour Party’s internal disciplinary procedures mimic those of some of the most totalitarian political parties in history, this article fails to make clear on what legal grounds a challenge is to be mounted.

    The truly shocking nature of the Kafkaesque inquisitorial process cannot be in any doubt to anyone who has examined the evidence.

    However in order to garner support for this vitally important (and in my opinion belated) initiative I think that potential supporters should be informed as soon as possible of the potential legal grounds on which redress is likely to be sought.

  • John Bowley says:

    Hooray for these brave determined people!

    Our South West Wilts CLP sent in a motion asking for the disciplinary process to be put right in accordance with previous recommendations. I recall that our motion was blocked by regional Labour Party staff.

  • Darrall Cozens says:

    I fit into the category above of the processes involved. My suspension has just been lifted after almost FOUR AND A HALF YEARS. I was suspended on March 9th 2016 due to “allegations of allegations of intimidating and threatening behaviour”. Despite asking dozens of times over the past 53 months what it was that I was alleged to have said and done; where and when am I alleged to have said or done something; to whom am I alleged to have said or done something and who it was who alleged that I had said or done something, all I have received from Party officials is SILENCE. After almost 56 years of being a very active LP member, who despite being suspended still paid the full sub and campaigned for the LP, they still refuse to tell me why I was suspended. No investigation, No hearing. No trial. No natural justice. My personal and political reputation in tatters. And this happened under JC too, who I supported. We seem to have two LPs – one of the members, meetings, conferences, policy making and another of the officials who are unaccountable and un-elected but who hold sway.

  • Pam Laurance says:

    I think the most horrible part of the procedure is that people are forbidden to talk about it to anyone else. We have put in the following motion for our ward to discuss next week – but we don’t know if the chair will allow it… this whole thing has got me feeling so anxious in terms of what can and can’t be said that I will leave out the name of the CLP…

    “Xxxxxxx CLP condemns the current Labour Party practice of forbidding suspended members from discussing details of their case. This is against natural justice. If the Govt introduced a law which forbade persons charged by the police with an offence, from discussing it with anyone we would expect the party to take a strong stand against it. We therefore ask that this practice is dropped.”

  • Hilary Wise says:

    To be anti-Semitic is truly vile. Anti-Semitism should not be tolerated in any political party. But there is one thing worse than being anti-Semitic: it is to knowingly, maliciously and wrongfully accuse someone of anti-Semitism. Anyone who does this should, equally, be expelled from the party. The motives of accusers and the ‘evidence’ they provide must be scrutinised with extreme care.

  • Dorothy says:

    The Labour Party, of all organisations, should prize natural justice. Yet it’s own procedures clearly violate it.

  • Mary Davies says:

    I TOTALLY SUPPORT this action which is long overdue. The way many socialists in the Party have been treated by the LP is shameful and undemocratic, while real racists on the right go unpunished.

  • JanP says:

    The current process, or how it is carried out, is worthy of Kafka.
    I know loyal members of the Labour Party who are in limbo, with no charges set out, no information, no evidence. Worthy members who would be of benefit to the party have been stopped from standing for election or office. An absolute disgrace.

  • ellie palmer says:

    Thank you JVL. Sad that it comes to this!!!
    Ellie Palmer Emeritus Prof.Law/ Human Rights / Access to Justice/ University of Essex

  • Harry Law says:

    Could anything bring the Labour Party more into disrepute than a former leader calling Jeremy Corbyn an anti Semite, I am still waiting for a reply after 15 months and counting.
    to complaints

    To Labour Party complaints department. 25th July 2019.

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I made a complaint online to you on 6th June 2019 about Mr Tony Blair calling Mr Jeremy Corbyn “an Anti-Semite”. I did receive an acknowledgement which said the complaint would be sent to the relevant department, could I add these observations to my complaint.

    During an interview at Bar Ilan university in Israel on 4th June 2019 Mr Tony Blair made a factually false allegation of Anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn. When answering a question… “if he believed Corbyn himself was Anti-Semitic, Mr Blair said yes” Mr Blair did not refer to any specific allegation of Anti-Semitism against Mr Corbyn.

    A gratuitous and false accusation such as this without providing evidence is a grave breach of an ordinary person’s rights and does bring the Labour party into disrepute in breach of its own rules, it could also ostracize that person from society for life, in the case of Mr Corbyn a life time believer in anti-racism he could be forced out of his leadership and the country deprived of a Labour government, so the stakes are extremely high.

    Could Blair’s false allegation have any effect on Labour Party members or the average voter? Of course it could, because Mr Blair has a very high profile and having served as leader and Prime Minister of the Labour party for 13 years and Envoy to the Middle East quartet for many years, his views have enormous credibility, plus he is a lawyer, so he should know his words have consequences.

    Would the average voter believe Mr Blair? Yes, because of his high profile and credibility over many years people are inclined to say, why would Mr Blair tell lies? What could he possibly gain? Obviously nothing, so people would tend to believe him. Could you expedite this matter as soon as possible. Thank you.

    Harry Law.

  • Ieuan Einion says:

    My first wife and mother of my eldest daughter was Colombian, of mixed race and partly Jewish. My second wife was quite English having been born in the same room that Jane Austen died in. My third wife was of Irish/Ashkenazi stock and my fourth wife from Syrian Jewish stock with grandparents from both Aleppo and Damascus.

    I suspect because of this back story, Sam Matthews decided that an anti-semitism charge wouldn’t stick (this in the days before the adoption of the IHRA Trojan horse), so he accused me of being a communist. Not a member of any specific ultra-left micro-sect, just “a supporter of the communist party.” His evidence that I had posted on a communist facebook page. I didn’t bother to appeal because this was not long before the 2017 election and I didn’t want to give any ammunition whatsoever to the enemies of socialism.

    It is now clear that these people still have their hand on the Labour tiller and are being protected by the new Labour leader. They must be faced down with every means at our disposal, legal, political etc.

    I would never normally propose legal or administrative solutions to political issues but Sir Steer Calmer leaves us with little choice.

  • dave says:

    Gavels are not used in most British courts so that picture would only apply to somewhere like an auction house, where they are used. Maybe it signifies auctioning Labour to the highest bidder now the big donors are back…

  • Christopher wortley says:

    Good, I hope they win and I’ll support them all the way.

  • I am ashamed of the direction the labour party is going in under the present leadership. How long before KS is spending leisure time with Rupert Murdoch and the current American president as Blair did and which took us on a disatrous journey. George Orwell could have written a distopian novel about this.

  • Graeme Atkinson says:

    So who are they? The Secret Seven?

  • ian duncan kemp says:

    The Labour Party is supposed to about fairness and justice. This not happening. Spurious and vindictive claims re Anti Semitism are given credit people are suspended without proper due process. There are people out there who will spend time looking through peoples social media face book stuff going back years for any sort of evidence re anti Semitism, and use it as a weapon . It is a form of McCarthyism, and totally undermines the real problem of A/S .
    The Labour party should be robust re these spurious claims and investigate those who make such claims. Instead it appears under Starmer it has decided to do the opposite and allow these claims to surface without any real evidence thus undermining the real A/S out there.
    It is depressing and I am wondering whether I can continue to be a member of LP much longer after over 50 years as a member in different parts of the country.
    Incidentally, as a person of Jewish descent vis my mother I have never in all these years come across any A/S in all the constituencies’ that I have been a member. Yes it exists as it does in all societies and Political parties. The hard evidence is that it is very small in the Labour party and yes it must be dealt with fairly , but instead we have a party and leader including a number of MPs who quite frankly should be ashamed of themselves who seem to want perpetuate unsubstantiated claims which are with out doubt vindictive to wards what is called the left of the party whatever that is. It is sickening and must stop.

  • Gordon MacIver says:

    The racism and sectarianism within the Labour Party is practised by the entryist conspirators i.e Stooge and his cronies.

  • DJ says:

    A United campaign to defend Jeremy Corbyn, JVL and party members threatened with expulsion is required. Jewish members falsely accused of anti semitism for criticising Israel. This is farcical. We should demand our democratic right to free speech on Israel and our right to challenge the output of the MSM including the Panorama programme. We cannot allow our views to be cancelled by the esblishment, the BoD or the Labour Party leadership. The IHRA definition of anti semitism is flawed and should be ditched. We need to go on the offensive by highlighting the injustice suffered by the Palestinians and campaign for a one state solution. This is the only way of restoring justice to the oppressed Palestinians. It’s time to end the appeasement of defenders of Israeli Apartheid. They are supporting institutional racism on a massive scale by the state of Israel. They need to be called out on this. It is clear that the Labour Party disciplinary process is a joke and the HQ staff responsible for it’s implementation are guilty of serious wrongdoings. A proper system with appropriately trained staff is required. The cases of members expelled need to be reopened and those who have been treated unfairly should receive a formal apology. They are more deserving of an apology than the saboteurs!

  • John Webster says:

    ‘But there is one thing worse than being anti-Semitic: it is to knowingly, maliciously and wrongfully accuse someone of anti-Semitism. Anyone who does this should, equally, be expelled from the party. The motives of accusers and the ‘evidence’ they provide must be scrutinised with extreme care.’
    This is absolutely the case. Audrey Wise is right. Those who lie and bear false witness MUST be severly punished – and that means a life-time membership ban. We need to go on the offensive over this.

  • Trish O'Hara says:

    This has been a long time coming and I give my full support. The labour party is unrecognisable with an accusatory administration.

  • Emma says:

    I despair with the current direction of the Labour party. Where’s the integrity? Where’s the honesty?
    Where’s the strong reliable opposition when we need it? I feel it is missing in action.To behave in such a manner is no way to gain respect and trust. What a mess. Bring back Jeremy Corbyn please. Good Luck Labour Activists for Justice with your case.

  • RC says:

    Violence against members? George Wilmers has forgotten the roughing up – and charging with terrorism – of Walter Wolfgang for querying a lie of Jack Straw at Conference. Though the prolonged concealment of charges, charges and so on does amount to (psychological) torture as inflicted on Julian Assange – witness UN rapporteur Nils Melzer.

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